Blogs by Ann Massey
Sweetest Things Turn Sourest By Their Deeds
1/5/2011 7:59:45 PM
When I first started to think about a title for my first novel Amah',one of the ideas I jotted down was 'Lilies that Fester,with its connotations of rot and decay, met with universal dislike from my long suffering family and friends who have been marvellous about reading my drafts - offering encouragement while showing restraint in the advice department - so I felt I had no choice than to drop my notion of giving my 'first born' a literary name.
Anyway there's no two ways about it, I was reaching high for a sordid story about self-centred girls behaving badly.
For interest,the quote is from the Shakespearean sonnet about corruption, a personal favourite. The final powerful lines are spot on. I do believe the tall poppies of the world should lead by example. The greedy, corrupt practices of high flyers like Alan Bond, Steve Vizard, Martha Stewart and Ray Williams leave a bad smell as does Crystal aka Tuff, the anti-hero of The White Amah, as I ultimately christened my newborn.
'The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself, it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity:
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.'
I wasn't being original in looking to the sonnets for inspiration. H.E. Bates did the same when he called his novel about the wonderful Larkin family: The Darling Buds of May. 'Rough winds do shake the darling buds of may,
And summer's lease has all too short a sway.'
Set in the idyllic Kentish countryside, the fresh facedfarm girls are as far removed from Tuff as Raggedy Ann is to a Bratz Doll. But then, the Larkins lived in the fifties, at a time when television programs reflected values like honour, respect, love, trust and self sacrifice. Bland by today's viewers' standards, programs like Skippy, Ivanhoe, Leave it to the Beaver and Dixon of Dock Green modelled old fashioned values. Robin Hood might have worn tights but no one ever doubted Maid Marion was still virgin intacto, along with the greater part of the single female audience.
There has been an about face from the saccharine programs of the fifties to gritty realism accompanied by a decline in old fashioned values. Is repeated exposure to men and women behaving badly a major factor? Think of Survivor that promotes winning at any cost and rewards bullies and betrayers; consider housemates on Big Brother openly copulating on national television and the foul mouths of the doll- faced ladettes and then look around you. Am I wrong in thinking that the media normalises bad behaviour and encourages a cult of self interest?
I would be interested in your thoughts.
Til next time,
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